What’s the Opposite of Hidden?

10 Effective Classroom Management Techniques Every Faculty Member Should Know

The second article in this special report focuses on the syllabus.  The main takeaway for me:  be transparent about the way I intend to teach, everything I hope students learn, and in every way that I intend to evaluate that learning.

If something is important enough to be a part of a curriculum, then why should it be hidden?

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On Being Wrong

On Being Wrong:

We’ve been talking for the last week or so about learning from mistakes.

Maybe the first step is to, as Schulz says, “Step outside that tiny, terrified space of rightness and look around at each other.. and look out at the vastness and complexity and mystery of the universe and be able to say wow, i don’t know.  Maybe I’m wrong.”

Just Flip a Little Bit

My first introduction to the flipped classroom was a few months ago, and totally blew my mind.  What a brilliant idea, and so obvious!  Of course class time should be for content application, not content delivery!  And of course I would want to go whole hog on the idea, and flip every bit of every workshop… but according to this video, there might be a better way:

The Flipped Class: Overcoming Common Hurdles

Take the part of the workshops that students tend to struggle with the most, and flip that.  A less pressure filled start for me, doesn’t turn their whole world upside down at once, and targets the material that needs classroom application time the most.  Makes sense!

Not Yet

Carol Dweck: The Power of Believing that You Can Improve

Since I listened to this talk last week, I have been careful to say ‘not yet’, instead of ‘no’.  It amazing how a small change in language can change my mindset, my beliefs, and my behaviour.

What a powerful word.

Teamwork Shouldn’t be Hidden

1922470_10154817517105531_3263139239261470285_nAh, group work… it never bothered me as a student.  True, I often found myself doing more than my share or ‘fixing’ someone else’s work, but it didn’t bother me.  I knew my standards were high when it came to academics, and I was fine doing extra work to meet them.

Of course now, with a few more years of lived experience behind me, I realized that it may have bothered those students whose work I ‘improved’.  Sorry!!

But a lot of students hate group work.  They know that they may end up doing more work than other members, or have some jerk think their work isn’t good enough and stay up all night changing it(ahem).  And then how is it graded??  Usually unfairly, right?

I think group work is extremely important.  Learning how to effectively collaborate on a project is such a key skill, and one that I haven’t seen explicitly taught.  I think that should change.

Why is team work often part of a hidden curriculum??  Why would we assign an activity with the idea that students will learn how to work in a team, and then just hang them out to dry?  Either decide to assign team projects in order to teach team work skills, and then find appropriate assessment for that, or don’t assign those projects!  What will they teach?  Frustration?  Annoyance?  To trust no one?

Here is a pretty comprehensive little article about group work.  I particularly like the multitude of suggested assessment options, with pros and cons laid out.

Assessing Group Work

If these skills are important enough that we assign these projects, then let’s prioritize them and ‘unhide’ them from our curriculum.

ROW, ROW, ROW your… course?

10400275_14596790382_4201_nI came across Dan Pink’s TED talk on motivation last week.

The Puzzle of Motivation

I don’t work in an office where we can operate on the pure Results Only Work environment principles, because we work with the public, in a government funded contract.  Not only do we have targets to meet, we are told how to meet them.

But, I have been able to experience this environment in some of my PIDP classes.  The first time, in Curriculum Development, it was a total shock.  Here are the assignments, here are some resources to support you in completing them, they are all due at the end of the course, and GO!

I took me a couple of weeks to realize how to operate within this environment; I’m so used to having my hand held and being directed through every process in my learning and work that I was at a loss and honestly kind of annoyed.

I have to figure out how to do this??  Seriously??  And then… oh.  Of course.  Maybe I will learn something.  I’m sure you can guess how that story ends 😉

Just Say Yes!

One of my classmates started an online discussion last week, about critical and creative thinking.  Do the two types of thinking help each other?  Hinder each other?  Are there times we need one more than the other?  And so on…

So someone posted about using brainstorming sessions to encourage creative thinking.  As someone that dabbles in introversion, brainstorming sessions can sometimes be intimidating and really challenging, if I haven’t had a chance to think about it beforehand.  As someone that also dabbles in being outgoing and talking too much, sometimes that just translates as me not saying anything until halfway through the session… and then not shutting up.

I found this article that gives some nice helpful suggestions around engaging those that identify as introverted in brainstorming sessions:

How to Brainstorm with Introverts

Now, the most interesting suggestion (to me), is to incorporate improv, or at least some of the rules of improv, into session.  The idea of doing improv in the classroom is a really interesting idea to me, and I’d like to explore if further.  The main ‘tenets of improv’, from How Improv Can Open Up the Mind to Learning in the Classroom and Beyond, are:

  1. Let go of your agenda
  2. Listen in order to receive
  3. Build on what you receive
  4. You can’t be wrong
  5. Make your partner look brilliant
  6. Keep moving forward

I see so much potential for incorporating improv into the classroom, mostly due to numbers 2, 3, 4, and 5.  The youth that I work with often struggle with communication skills, and using improv to help them build those skills, as well as helping them learn to work with others is a really exciting idea.  I could see using this early in a course or program to build connections between students and get their creative juice flowing, as well as giving them an opportunity to work on taking risks in a consequence free zone!

I’ve Never Believed in Learning Styles

One of the discussion forums in my 3250 class has been devoted to learning styles… visual learners, tactile learners, auditory learners; what am I?

Sometimes I am one of them, sometimes I am all of them… mostly I think I am none of them.

Back when I was a student at SFU, I took a cognitive psychology class with Dr Bruce Whittlesea (Memory and Mind).  What I learned in that class, I’m now realizing, has helped to shape some of my beliefs in regards to learning.

Dr Whittlesea introduced us to the levels of processing theory of memory; essentially, if you process information at a deeper level, you are more likely to remember it.  Check this article out for a pretty solid summary:

Levels of Processing

How does this relate to education, and to my opinions on learning styles?  Well, if you think that the levels of processing theory makes sense, then trying to teach by putting information out into the classroom and hoping that students absorb it doesn’t.  Mode of presentation doesn’t matter so much as how deeply students work with the information.  Leaning on learning styles and teaching to them simply keeps us stuck in a world where the teacher is the holder of information, and the only way to take the learner into account is to alter the way information is presented.

I would actually argue that if a learner has a certain preference around how information is presented, maybe we should present it the opposite way and teach them how to take that information and then process it through their preference.  For example, I like diagrams.  I always want information in a diagram, but I understand content best when I draw the diagram myself – not when it’s presented to me.  So if you have a student that likes information presented visually, why not present it textually and get them to draw a picture of the information’s meaning?  That way you are acknowledging their preferences, but still getting them to work with or process the content at a deeper level.

How does that sound?

And if you like videos or Tedx talks… I agree with this one:

Learning Styles and the Importance of Critical Self reflection